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Authors: Laura Summers

Desperate Measures

BOOK: Desperate Measures
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Desperate Measures

Laura Summers grew up in South London and was a teacher before turning full time to writing. She has written scripts for many popular children’s TV series, including
The Story of Tracy Beaker
, based on the stories of Jacqueline Wilson.

Desperate Measures
is her first novel. The idea came from the observation there were very few characters with learning disabilities in children’s books and the reality that one of her own children is disabled. The result is the creation of Rhianna and her sister Vicky: two very individual teenagers, one of whom happens to have learning disabilities.

Laura now lives in North Devon with her husband and children and, when not writing, loves to draw and paint.

Desperate Measures



To my family
With thanks to Lucy, Gaia and Anne

First published in Great Britain in 2010
by Piccadilly Press Ltd,
5 Castle Road, London NW1 8PR

Text copyright © Laura Summers, 2010

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

The right of Laura Summers to be identified as Author of this work
has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

A catalogue record for this book is available
from the British Library

ISBN: 978 1 84812 050 1 (paperback)
eBook ISBN: 978 1 84812 140 9

3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Printed in the UK by CPI Bookmarque, Croydon, CR0 4TD
Cover design by Simon Davis
Cover illustration by Sue Hellard

Chapter 1

My name is Rhianna Jane Davies but my twin sister Vicky always calls me Re. I’m much taller than her but because she’s forty-seven and a half minutes older than me, she’s always trying to boss me around. When she tells me I’ve spilt my yogurt or put my T-shirt on back to front or something, I pretend I can’t hear her and start singing really loud. Then I call her a sticky slob bottom and that really gets on her nuckets. She makes that face – the one where her mouth stretches out sideways and her eyes go up in triangles. She looks like she’s going to explode but she hasn’t so far. Most times she just yells at me and stomps off, banging the door so loud it makes my ears hurt.

It’s our birthday tomorrow. We’re going to be fourteen and I can’t wait. I’ve made Vicky a card – it’s got sparkly
stuff stuck on it and some tinsel I found in the cupboard under the stairs. Jamie helped me spell the words and wipe off all the glue so Vicky can open it. Jamie’s our little brother. He’s got black caterpillar eyebrows and hair that sticks up like a loo brush. He’s ten and always getting into trouble.

I’m not in the same class as Vicky because I have lessons in the Special Unit. It’s not very special, except the ceiling’s got a big brown stain because the roof leaks when it rains. Vicky gets really angry if the other kids say nasty things to me. Once when Charlene Slackton called me Der-Brain, Vicky went up to her and said she’d like to see her survive for nearly an hour without enough air to breathe. That’s what happened when I was born you see. I was coming out of my mum’s you-know-what and I got stuck. Probably because I’ve got really big feet. Size eights. Vicky only takes fives and Jamie’s a pidgy four and a half.

Chapter 2

It must have been five o’clock this morning when Rhianna woke me up. Five a.m. and she’s all excited and yelling in my earhole.

‘Vicky, come on Vicky, let’s go down and see what presents we’ve got!’

I ignored her for as long as I could but when she ripped my duvet off and started bouncing up and down on my bed, all nine and a half stone of her, that was it. I’d had enough. She drives me bonkers. It’s really weird – although she’s got this amazing memory for things that happened years ago, she’s got absolutely no idea about time – we’re talking ‘big hand’ and ‘little hand’ here and even then she still hasn’t got a clue. Most days she doesn’t even know what day of the week it is or whether she’s just eaten her breakfast, dinner or tea.

‘Get off, Re! Go back to sleep!’ I yelled.

But she wouldn’t. She disappeared off downstairs to wait for Mr Postie. After twenty minutes there was no sound, so I went down to check she hadn’t electrocuted herself or flooded the kitchen, or both. She was sitting on the doormat poking a dead daddy-longlegs.

‘Come on, Re. Back to bed . . .’

‘But Dad might have sent us something.’

‘The postman won’t be here for another two hours and even then he . . .’

I stopped and looked at her, sitting awkwardly on the mat, her legs crossed like a badly jointed puppet’s and her wide grey eyes fixed expectantly on the letterbox. I didn’t like to burst her bubble but things were different now. We were on our own. Without Mum and Dad I mean. Mum died just over two years ago and Dad . . . well . . . I don’t want to go into that right now but he’s not around any more. It’s not all bad news though. We’ve been fostered by a lovely couple called Paul and Sarah for the last eight months. It’s meant we’ve had to go to new schools but at least we’re finished with all those manky children’s homes. Now they really were the pits.

I could see Rhianna wasn’t going to budge. In the end I gave up, pulled the throw off the settee and tucked it round her because her hands and feet were going bluey-purple. I went into the kitchen and made a cup of tea, wondering whether Matt had got me a birthday card.

Matt is this gorgeous boy in my form. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t actually my boyfriend or anything . . . but he
was meeting me at the end of the road this morning and we were walking up to school together. My friend Rosie said I should consider myself as having engaged his attentions. (It’s OK – she’s a bit weird, she talks like that.) Anyway, you should have seen the look on Charlene Slackton’s face when she heard about it; she was sooooo jealous because he’s rated the hottest boy in the whole of Year Nine. And he likes me. Me! Vicky ‘Shrimp-Face’ Davies.

Maybe I should explain. I’m really short. I have curly red hair that never does what I want it to (think ginger fuzzball), I blush when I’m embarrassed (too much of the time), have tons of freckles (say no more) and wear flat sensible shoes for school (thanks to Sarah). Since I’ve been at this new school I’ve made just one friend – Rosie – who’s the school boffin and reads Jane Austen novels instead of teen mags. Charlene has long blond hair down to her waist, wears really trendy clothes and high-heeled shoes that she can hardly walk in and everyone who’s anyone would chop their right arm off and beat themselves with the soggy end if it meant they could be in her gang. Except Rosie of course, who wouldn’t see the point, and me . . . maybe. Anyway, I blew my chances of ever being one of Charlene’s best buddies when she teased Re and I told her exactly where to go.

Which reminds me. Rhianna had better not kick up a fuss when she finds out she’s got to walk to school with Jamie today. I’m not looking after her. Not today of all days. She’s such a big kid. She’d spoil everything. She always does.

When the postman finally came, there was a letter for Sarah and a few cards for us. Re was opening all our cards as Paul and Sarah came downstairs.

‘Aren’t you going to sing us both happy birthday?’ I joked.

Sarah smiled and was about to say something but suddenly grimaced, sucked in her breath and rubbed her hand across her stomach. ‘Oooowww.’

‘You all right, love?’ Paul asked. Sarah nodded and forced a smaller, tighter smile.

‘I’m fine. But I think we’re going to have a karate champ on our hands!’

Paul and Sarah have been the best thing to happen to us in a long while and now things are set to get even better. Although she’s pretty ancient (she must be at least forty-three) Sarah’s going to have a baby! They were over the moon when they found out – and so were we when they told us we weren’t going to be moved on again. Hooray! They’d decided they would carry on fostering us, baby and all. Jamie and I want it to be a boy, Rhianna’s holding out for a girl but Paul and Sarah say they don’t care as long as it’s healthy. So in a few months’ time, we’ll all be up to our armpits in nappies, bootees and baby sick, and believe it or not, we’re all looking forward to it.

Rhianna was busy sorting through the cards. She desperately wanted one with a
badge. There was a card for each of us from Mrs Frankish. She’s our social worker but Jamie’s managed to convince Re that she’s really a witch because she’s got a mole on her face with hairs growing out
of it. She’d spelt Rhianna’s name wrong, as usual, but had boosted our card count by fifty per cent. There was nothing from Dad. When Re realised, her big grey eyes started to water and her large moon face crumpled.

‘Never mind, Re,’ I said, hugging her as she towered over me. ‘Maybe there aren’t any postboxes where he is.’

Paul looked up from buttering some toast and I felt my face reddening. ‘Dad’s doing a really important job delivering medicines and food to all those refugees,’ I whispered to her when he was out of earshot. There was no way I wanted Rhianna or Jamie understanding where Dad really was. I didn’t want anyone to know. It was a big black secret and it was better it stayed that way. When we first arrived at Paul and Sarah’s, I sneaked a look at our paperwork while Mrs Frankish was busy chatting. I scanned the pages, detailing all the children’s homes we’d been in and then saw the large, hastily scribbled words –
No contact with dad
. I remember feeling a huge wave of relief as I realised that was it; no further explanation was needed: Mrs Frankish had rubbed him out of our lives.

Re gave me her card and I made a massive fuss over it. I knew she’d been making it for about two weeks but I pretended it was a big surprise. It was like the sort of thing Jamie used to bring home from playschool, everywhere smudged with paint and big, wonky letters. I gave her another big hug and told her it was my best card. She looked so proud, I knew she believed me. Then I gave her a present, a Furby – she’s wanted one for ages – and, thinking maybe this was a good time, I broke the news that she’d have
to go to school with Jamie today.

Whoa! Big mistake. You’d have thought I’d told her she had to stick her head in a bucket of worms, she made such a fuss. Talk about an instant thunderstorm.

‘I hate you!’ she yelled. ‘I was going to give you one of my Barbies for your present,’ (she’d cut the hair off them both playing hairdressers last week) ‘but I’m not now. You . . . you . . . conkhog!’

Don’t ask me what a conkhog is, I haven’t a clue. It’s just one of Rhianna’s special words she reserves for when she’s losing it. She snatched back her card and sat on it. Paul tried to calm her down but I know what she’s like when she gets in a paddy. It’s better to leave her alone or it just gets worse. Anyway, I thought, I’ll make it up to her tonight. Sarah had let me get her a cake – it cost a packet and looked totally naff with bright blue icing but it had a picture of her favourite boy band on it. So I went out into the hall, got my school bag and slipped quietly out the front door.

Chapter 3

All boys are vom. And boys called Matt are the vommiest of all. She could have let me come. I wouldn’t have said anything. I could have walked behind them – they wouldn’t have known I was there. I can walk really quietly even when I’ve got my clodhoppers on.

I hate walking to school with Jamie. He said we had to go past one of the houses really quickly in case some boy saw us and he did so Jamie shouted ‘Leg it!’ and we had to run. He nearly pulled me over because we were going so fast. I got a stitch but Jamie still wouldn’t stop. We ran up to Sam’s house (that’s Jamie’s friend) and banged on the door. Sam’s mum answered and the boy ran off shouting that he and his mates were going to beat Jamie up after school. Jamie yelled back that he didn’t care but his face went all chalky like it did when Mrs Frankish told us that
we weren’t allowed to live with Dad any more.

BOOK: Desperate Measures
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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